Do-it-yourself but do it together: Interdisciplinary Design Studio

Aydınoğlu A. U., Kaygan P.

Annual Conference of the Society for the Social Studies of Science , Barcelona, Spain, 29 August - 02 September 2016

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Unpublished
  • City: Barcelona
  • Country: Spain
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Background. This study explores design process in a collaborative educational setting. Design Factory @METU is an interdisciplinary research and education center whose primary objective is providing space and equipment infrastructure required for design projects that are conducted in teams. Interdisciplinary student teams (engineering, design, architecture, and business students, 42 in total) were given a theme –emergency– and asked to develop an artefact addressing it using the DF spaces and tools. The teams were mentored by a diverse group of faculty. Two groups developed apps while four groups completed conceptual designs for tangible products.


Methodology. This exploratory study aimed to understand the dynamics of collaborative work better. Data was generated through semi-structured interviews and naturalistic observation. We conducted 50 interviews with students (multiple interviews with some of the students). In addition, we had spent observing students for four weeks. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed. The observation memos were integrated into the analysis.  


Findings & Arguments. 1.Through peer-learning and hands-on experience students become something other than consumers of education. 2.Students from different departments have different mindsets, approaches, and workflows that are sometimes inreconcilable. 3. Skillsets (using 3D printer, coding, etc.) are important, so are soft skills (communication, conflict management, etc.). 4.Shared space (or lack thereof) hindered collaborative design process. Interaction does not happen in vacuum.


Contribution. There is limited literature on the teamwork aspect of maker culture in STS, this study addresses that gap. Moreover, it explores an educational model for engaging STEAM and hands-on experience in the developing world.